Characterization of phosphoproteins from electrophoretic gels by nanoscale Fe(III) affinity chromatography with off-line mass spectrometry analysis

Proteomics. 2001 Feb;1(2):207-22. doi: 10.1002/1615-9861(200102)1:2<207::AID-PROT207>3.0.CO;2-3.


Detailed characterization of phosphoproteins as well as other post-translationally modified proteins is required to fully understand protein function and regulatory events in cells and organisms. Here we present a mass spectrometry (MS) based experimental strategy for the identification and mapping of phosphorylation site(s) using only low-picomole amounts of phosphoprotein starting material. Miniaturized sample preparation methods for MS facilitated localization of phosphorylation sites in phosphoproteins isolated by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Custom made, nanoscale immobilized Fe(III) affinity chromatography (Fe(III)-IMAC) columns were employed for enrichment of phosphorylated peptides from crude peptide mixtures prior to off-line analysis by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) MS or nanoelectrospray tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). An optimized and sensitive procedure for alkaline phosphatase treatment of peptide mixtures was implemented, which in combination with nano-scale Fe(III)-IMAC and MALDI-MS allowed unambiguous identification of phosphopeptides by observation of 80 Da mass shifts. Nanoelectrospray MS/MS was used for phosphopeptide sequencing for exact determination of phosphorylation sites. The advantages and limitations of the experimental strategy was demonstrated by enrichment, identification and sequencing of phosphopeptides from the model proteins ovalbumin and bovine beta-casein isolated by gel electrophoresis. Furthermore, an autophosphorylation site at Ser-3 in recombinant human casein kinase-2 beta subunit was determined. The potential of miniaturized Fe(III)-IMAC and MALDI-MS for characterization of in vivo phosphorylated proteins was demonstrated by identification of tryptic phosphopeptides derived from the human p47/phox phosphoprotein isolated by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Casein Kinase II
  • Caseins / chemistry
  • Caseins / genetics
  • Cattle
  • Chromatography, Affinity / methods*
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
  • Humans
  • Iron
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • NADPH Oxidases
  • Ovalbumin / chemistry
  • Ovalbumin / genetics
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry
  • Peptide Fragments / genetics
  • Peptide Fragments / isolation & purification
  • Phosphoproteins / chemistry
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics
  • Phosphoproteins / isolation & purification*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / chemistry
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Proteome
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods
  • Trypsin


  • Caseins
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Proteome
  • Ovalbumin
  • Iron
  • NADPH Oxidases
  • neutrophil cytosolic factor 1
  • Casein Kinase II
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Trypsin